They explore the artistic evolution of women. The paintings of Sajitha G, in fact, capture the soul of feminine beauty and intellect. The artist's body of work, entitled 'Stree', is her expression of the trials and tribulations that she faced in her journey as a girl during her growing years. Says Sajitha: "It's about all the female emotions I have encountered. All my works relate to the disappointments and disillusions that I faced as a female artist in (my native) Kerala. I'm voicing my anguish of having seen the world as a woman and the carefree days of my childhood (that are a far cry now). It's my diary.
"The journey of almost two decades comes alive in the form of different styles that show the transition from an innocent girl to a woman who is enlightened by the spiritual force - Mahadevi - that she feels inside her. It's the rustic beauty of the works that captivates the soul. The painter has interwoven surrealism and reality so seamlessly that it's a treat for art lovers. Uma Nair, who has curated the book Stree, agrees with the above statement.
Thiruvananthapuram-based Sajitha graduated from the Government College of Art in the state capital in 1987 and turned from sculpture to painting for lack of physical strength to handle stone and granite. There was a sense of loss which kept her down for only a short time. In the liberating social climate that the state fostered with women in the home front running the household, working in factories and business, Sajitha's belief in her ability to be a successful visual artist was nourished.
The small village of Kumaranelloor, in south-central Kerala's Kottayam district, where she grew up, its backwater and red-earth roads gave her a quirky individualism which was fed by the works of the state's eminent poets and writers who explored the spiritual relationship between Nature and man, land and society. A rebel at heart, she was aloof from the family. Even at the age of six, she would wander alone in the garden, among the green vegetation, and would scribble in her textbook in Malayalam.
I am talking with Nature
I am talking with a shell flower
I am turning into the tapioca field
Green. I am proud of you
But we are making grey smoke out of you.
Throughout history, Kerala artists have responded to their political, social and cultural environment with art that has reflected an ideological realism. Sajitha's individualism slowly emerged in the form of a deep concern for the status of women, the reality in which she lived, the meaning of her existence - and she wielded her brush and pen simultaneously to create a body of work that drew up compulsive attention. She made her presence felt in the literary circles, recited poetry, took part in group shows and received a Kerala State Award in 1994 for her work Spiritual Love.
At her one-woman show in Ernakulam where she displayed her drawings and paintings on 'The changing face of woman', she interpreted figural themes with a classical restraint and put forth her theme; "We look at how far we have come, and then know, there can be no turning back." Reacting to her works, poet-writer Kamala Das then said, "Sajitha does not celebrate the fact of her existence, she does not offer any solutions, nor does she pass on messages. She gifts the viewer with the Weltschmerz of today's displaced generation. She knows how different today's world is from yesterday's. One cannot help being reminded of the tragic landmarks of this century - the all-pervasive cynicism and cult of money.
Sajitha's art is strong meat and cannot be ignored. All day and every day - till the process of rendering values had become second nature to her. She experimented with various mediums - working in oils, printmaking, producing sculptural murals in terracotta, drawing with charcoal and chalk - finally concentrating on acrylic on paper. She received a research grant from the Lalit Kala Akademi and a scholarship from the Shantidevi Mansinghka Trust through the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce that helped her keep up the continuity in work and evolve herself.
She paid a visit to Santiniketan where she met the artistteacher K G Subramanyam and studied his works that included an early set of pictures - women with child, women with objects followed by a set of pictures and animals - a girl decorated with pigeons, women hugging a rooster - that have an iconic aspect. This reinforced her view that there had to be a symbiotic relationship between art and life, between nature and labguage, and one could ultimately arrive at a gem-like compression of figural motifs to give them vivacity and make them more intelligible.
The choice of woman as a subject matter was natural to her and in a series of paintings she created, she drew her characters from her neighbourhood, depicted women in the background of nature, focused on her as a mother and a rebel who survived in hostile circumstances. Relying on her feel for colour and design, she combined the various faces of women in a grid formation as a culmination point of her different approaches. In her work Power of Women, she brings in the essence of all her earlier works such as Lady with Blue Butterflies, Freedom, Women in Rebellion and Changing Faces of Women.
Sajitha says Power of Woman, as a work, seems to say something strongly to me regarding the potential of women. Many women who have given away too much of themselves talk of recovering their losses, of recovering their earlier freedom. And surprisingly enough, though I began my work with a strong bias towards woman, I gradually discovered that men were also victims of the same system they had created.and at a point it was difficult to differentiate between men and women as victors and victims of a vicious system that had influenced the human psyche over a long period of time. Her Power of Woman is growing into a significant series, gathering force as it progresses.
The strength of a painting comes from its structure, but the work needs feeling to make it whole. The expressive content of any work of art is central to its purpose. The artist must have something to say - he or she must spiritually connect with the subject. This feeling for the subject, regardless of styles, balances form with content, and breathes life into Sajitha's work.